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Winter's Reflections

Here's what's important to me (and you may agree) this winter PLUS 2 tips to help catch more winter fish.

- Winter time is a slowdown time for most fisher people. And that's okay. Some of us might want to take the hint -

Is it seriously Christmas time again?! How did that happen? You don't really need any more clichés or pithy anecdotes regarding the continually compressed passage of time but, well, it's a cliché for a reason.

Winter in Idaho
River flows are generally at their lowest in winter.

For most of us in the northern hemisphere, the cold has set in and is here to stay. Heck, Texas has already had some of the white stuff this year. As I'm now stationed in Boise, ID, I have the luxury of oscillating between snowy teens/20s and drizzly 40s throughout the winter. This is actually an ideal situation for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. There's still plenty of fishing to be had without freezing your tuchus off and the mountains just above/behind the house still get plenty of fluff for all the downhillers, snowmobilers, and other winter-wonderlanders to enjoy.

The hard part is that it's still a cooldown. The days are still short and the nights are still long. The gray still dominates the skies. But that's okay because, as nature has seasons, so do we.

As humans (especially in the US), we're more like humans doing than humans being. We're negating our own seasons and pushing and pushing and pushing. I'm really feeling that, yet again, mother nature has the best plan...that seasons are something that aren't just best for the out-of-doors but all the living creatures within. Including me.

That's not to say you should hide in bed for the next few months, even though that sounds great sometimes. We still have responsibilities but I, for one, feel a massive pull to be much more intuitive about the way I go about my business this winter.

  1. Take care of the big things

  2. Schedule my time carefully

  3. Prioritize mental health, family, and being

  4. Push the "can waits" into the new year

  5. Still fish from time to time because, well, yeah...

Thanks for letting me put my feelers out there.... and now, onto the fishing!

DNSTRM Team member Lee Coyle braving the elements.

Two tactics for catching more fish this winter

The winter slowdown is in effect and the fish feel it too! Here are two methods to help you find more fish this winter. There are two tactics I like to employ to find more and better fish in the cold winter months. The first will be shared here in this blog and we'll save #2 for the next... That way, we'll be able to go more in-depth without an overly wordy post.

Remember - For both tactics, the deeper, slower water is the warmer water. Fish will tend to congregate here along the bottom. The air may be colder than the water itself so, the water high in the column is exposed to the air and therefore colder.

The water deep in the bucket is heated by the earth and therefore warmer than the water near the surface. Fast water = higher oxygen = colder temps too.

Also, look for natural springs or fish right below a bottom-release dam for earth-warmed water. You're chances are better here than downriver or in shallow, frigid water.

Method #1

"Short Leash" Hybrid Method

The short leash method simply means less line between your bobber and fly(flies). It's an ideal setup for lower/slower water and I use it late summer through the early spring for that reason.

The "Hybrid" play is this: The heavy fly (stonefly, worm, or weighted perdigon/euro nymph) goes on the bottom! 2 feet, give or take, above this fly, attach tag piece of tippet with a surgeon's knot followed by a single overhand around the main leader/tippet. Trim to about 4 inches or just wider than the typical palm. The tag is a perfect spot for a nymph/emerger pattern.

In winter, midge and BWO nymphs/emergers can be perfect starting places.

Last, depth of water in mind, place your indicator. I'm loving the Oros Fishing twist-on indicators for ease of adjustment. Also, your line goes right through the middle of these special bobbers instead of on one side with an eyelet.

You'll want your bottom (heavier) fly to bump the riverbed from time to time but not get hung up. You also don't want to have your setup drift through without bumping the bottom at all. This means adjusting your indicator position from time to time and for each spot.

For me, this usually means a bobber-to-bottom-fly length that is just a little longer than the run is deep. Instead of the traditional nymph method (twice the leader for the depth of the 4 ft bucket = 8 feet from bobber to flies), the Short Leash Hybrid gets your flies down and in the strike zone better in low-water times AND keeps an emerger a little higher up for those keyed-in fish.

Here's a little graphic to help out:

Also, Check out this short video to see this method in action!:

And there you have my favorite method for winter nymphing (or any low-flow nymphing).

Keep an eye out for the next email with method #2 for winter fishing!

As always, peace, good vibes, and tight lines!


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